Don’t Let Spring Break ‘Break the Bank’

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With spring just around the corner, many college students are looking forward to that time-honored, rite of passage – spring break.  However, before planning for a week of bliss on an exotic beach, the Iowa College Student Aid Commission (Iowa College Aid) urges students to consider the financial burden an excursion such as this could potentially create.  Iowa students graduate with average student loan debt nearing $30,000, so piling on a thousand or two more for a fun-filled trip with friends is not the soundest financial decision.

To help students enjoy their break without breaking the bank, Iowa College Aid offers the following spring break tips:

1.) Set a budget – Create a budget that your bank account can handle.  As you plan, make certain that your travel, overnight, food, and additional expenses are covered within your budget.

2.) Stay local – When deciding upon a spring break location, consider sites and cities that are local. Airfare and gas costs can add up quickly, but by reducing the distance you are traveling you can save money and also have more time to relax!

3.) Do your research – Research hotels, campsites, and other overnight options to ensure that you are getting the most for your money. Waiting until the last minute to make these arrangements could cost you.

4.) Travel on less-traveled days and times – Consider traveling on days and at times that are less heavily traveled by others. According to independenttraveler.com, Monday afternoon through Thursday morning is generally less traveled. By booking a flight or filling up your gas tank on these days you will likely spend less than you would on a Friday through Sunday. If you intend to fly to your destination, plan to catch a flight in the morning as flights at this time tend to be significantly cheaper than those that take off later in the day.

5.) Pack well – By packing necessary items like your sunscreen and other gear you can avoid the additional cost of purchasing these items once you get to your destination.

6.) Consider driving – Airfare can be costly, so before jetting off to your dream destination, consider organizing a carpool with friends to cut down on cost.

7.) Buy groceries – Save on the cost of food by purchasing groceries when you arrive instead dining out for each meal. Try to eat in for at least two meals each day to dramatically cut back on food costs.

8.) Cut coupons – During the weeks leading up to your trip, be on the lookout for coupons and group deals. Be sure to check out sites such as restaurant.com and groupon.com to find deals online!

9.) Bring your Student ID – Many restaurants, theaters, and museums offer student discounts so be sure to pack your student ID! Don’t be afraid to ask if there is a student discount available before you pay for anything!

10.) Don’t take out loans for the trip – If you can’t afford to go on the trip without taking out students loans or charging it to your credit card, pass on the trip for this year. Instead, stay home and plan out a budget so that you can go on a trip next year!

11.) Participate in a volunteer opportunity – If spring break at home doesn’t sound appealing, look for volunteer opportunities that allow you to travel, expenses paid, in exchange for your work. Not only will you get to experience a new place, you will have the chance to meet new people, help those less fortunate and build your resume!

“Decisions students make while in college have a lasting impact on their financial futures,” stated Misjak.  “We hope these tips help college students make smart and informed decisions.”  More information about Iowa College Aid and its products and services that help Iowa families plan, prepare and pay for college can be found at www.IowaCollegeAid.gov or by calling 877-272-4456.

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